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Are You Stubborn or Persevering?

My baby red-foot tortoise, Malti, tunneling through the crown molding again. Is she stubborn or persevering? We may never know for sure, but this indulgent tort mommy chooses to believe the latter!
My baby red-foot tortoise, Malti, tunneling through the crown molding again. Is she stubborn or persevering? We may never know for sure, but this indulgent tort mommy chooses to believe the latter!

Am I stubborn? Or persevering?

This is the question I found myself asking this week. It happened after two people close to me told me I was “too stubborn.”

Given that the prevailing definition of stubborn basically describes a person I hope I never meet, this caused me some amount of concern. Am I stubborn? Do I insist that my way is the right way…the only way? Do I keep insisting this even when I am flat, dead wrong?

Am I arrogant, inflexible, obstinant?


I sure hope not.

So I ran it by my longtime mentor, Lynn, to see what she thought. Her response was intriguing – and potentially reassuring. She replied:

Stubborness can be a liability (that is, an asset carried too far to be useful anymore) – the asset version is perseverance. It’s important to know the difference. 

I agreed…especially when I am being called something that is a liability. Plus, I like the sound of “perseverance” better.

She continued: 

Perseverance is what is growing you daily into higher and higher planes of being. Perseverance is what helped you to found MC [MentorCONNECT] and write your books. Perseverance is open to new/better ideas, but always keeps the goal in sight rather than being side-tracked. Stubborness hides its head in the sand and refuses to consider anything new, which is why perseverance is also what led to the lightbulb and electricity to cause it to light up…

The one person who used the term “stubborn” in the same sentence with my name was referring to my recent individual attempts to paint the accent wall in my new casa teal blue – using spray paint.

The other person who referred to me as “stubborn” highlighted my refusal to ask others to help me when they would and could.

Since I didn’t consult anyone else before deciding the perfect shade of teal I found in spray paint form in Target’s “home improvement” aisle would be easy and fun to use – much cheaper too, than having to buy brushes and mixing pans and a huge pot of paint I would never use up – I had to exonerate myself from the former accusation. If I had asked others, and they had then informed me that attempting to spray paint an accent wall (especially without first putting down a covering over one’s new couch and hardwood floors so they don’t get covered in fine teal blue spray), and I had proceeded anyway, well, I could then concede the point.

But I didn’t. I didn’t ask anyone else, because in my mind, the idea was so clearly brilliant it didn’t require a second opinion.

Now I know better. And I wouldn’t choose spray paint if I had it to do all over again.

But in terms of the latter accusation – failing to ask for help, even from people who would and could help me – I have to say I’m pretty guilty. It just feels so satisfying and freeing to do things myself. I don’t have to wait on anyone else. I don’t have to risk inconveniencing anyone else. I don’t have to worry myself to death about finding a suitable thank you gift for the volunteer and delivering it to them in a timely fashion.

So I would say that there, yes, I am pretty stubborn. Obstinate. Not arrogant, I don’t think, in that it would in some ways be much easier to have others help me with some projects, and I am not so sold on a solo DIY track that I can’t see the obvious advantages to having assistance. These advantages would include safety, expediency, results quality, more fun and many others.

But I am not sure I would ask for help from others for just about anything I can think of (like, say, rebuilding the new tortoise fort that needs rebuilding in my new backyard), even knowing all that.

I’m not sure why. I guess I just figure I can do it myself, so why not just do it myself?

This means that, in terms of whether I am stubborn or persevering, I would have to say I am likely some of each. Maybe all mixed up together. In this case, it would be nice to have some kind of interim word – like a work-in-progress word – to describe someone who is making at least a minimum level of effort towards moving from behavior that is a total liability to behavior that has more asset qualities.

Now I just have to find it.

Today’s Takeaway: Are you stubborn? Or persevering? Or perhaps a bit (or a lot) of both? Do you see stubbornness as a liability or just a trait? Could you see how perseverance could be more of an asset? What is your take on getting a second opinion on your own great ideas or asking others to help you with projects you can theoretically do yourself? Good? Bad? Indifferent?

Are You Stubborn or Persevering?

Shannon Cutts

Parrot, tortoise & box turtle mama. Writer. Author. Mentor. Champion of all people (and things) recovered and recovering.

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APA Reference
Cutts, S. (2016). Are You Stubborn or Persevering?. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 22, 2020, from


Last updated: 11 Sep 2016
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